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9 August 1940
British troops to be withdrawn from Shanghai and North China.
New Hebrides declare loyalty to De Gaulle
Australian Naval History on 9 August 1940
The auxiliary minesweeper HMAS GOONAMBEE, was commissioned. GOONAMBEE was laid down in the State Dockyard, Newcastle, NSW, in 1919. She was requisitioned for the RAN, from her owners, Cam & Sons Pty Ltd, on 28 June 1940.
Engaged in the Battle of Tug Argan Gap, HMAS HOBART, (cruiser), landed her 1.3kg Hotchkiss saluting gun, mounted on a temporary carriage, to stiffen the British line near Berber. A crew of three volunteers, PO H. Jones, AB H.C. Sweeney, and AB W.J. Hurran, manned the gun, and fought alongside the troops until the position was captured by the overwhelming Italian forces. The gun crew was taken prisoner, until 1 April 1941, when British troops captured Eritrea.
Cooper Review (Cooper, Tex.), Vol. 61, No. 32, Ed. 1 Friday, August 9, 1940
Weekly newspaper from Cooper, Texas that includes local, state, and national news along with advertising.
eight pages : ill. page 21 x 16 in. Digitized from 35 mm. microfilm.
Creator: Unknown. August 9, 1940.
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The Delta County Public Library was founded in 1981 by a group of citizens working to make the dream of a county library a reality. After 11 years in its original facility, the library moved to a new building in 1993 and remains an important part of community infrastructure.
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- Main Title: Cooper Review (Cooper, Tex.), Vol. 61, No. 32, Ed. 1 Friday, August 9, 1940
- Serial Title:Cooper Review
Weekly newspaper from Cooper, Texas that includes local, state, and national news along with advertising.
eight pages : ill. page 21 x 16 in.
Digitized from 35 mm. microfilm.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
University of North Texas Libraries Browse Structure
Unique identifying numbers for this issue in the Portal or other systems.
- Library of Congress Control Number: sn86088665
- OCLC: 14148322 | External Link
- Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metapth895620
- Volume: 61
- Issue: 32
- Edition: 1
This issue is part of the following collections of related materials.
Delta County Area Newspaper Collection
Founded in 1870, Delta County is in northeastern Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 5,231. Delta County is formed by two forks of the Sulphur River on its northern and southern boundaries, which meet at its easternmost point to create the Greek letter-delta shape.
Tocker Foundation Grant
Collections funded by the Tocker Foundation, which distributes funds principally for the support, encouragement, and assistance to small rural libraries in Texas.
Texas Digital Newspaper Program
The Texas Digital Newspaper Program (TDNP) partners with communities, publishers, and institutions to promote standards-based digitization of Texas newspapers and to make them freely accessible.
Today in History: Born on August 9
Henry V, British king famous for his victory at Agincourt, France.
John Dryden, the first official Poet Laureate of Great Britain (1668 to 1700).
Isaak Walton, author of the classic The Compleat Angler.
Jean Piaget, psychologist who did pioneering work on the development of children's intellectual faculties.
P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books.
Robert Shaw, actor and writer.
Bob Cousey, Hall of Fame basketball player and coach of the Boston Celtics.
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, Japanese actress and bestselling children's author (Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window) established Japan's first TV talk show, Tetsuko no Heya (Tetsuko's Room), breaking with traditional subservient depiction of Japanese women.
Ken Norton, heavyweight boxing champ.
Rosemary Elizabeth "Posy" Simmonds, award-winning British newspaper cartoonist (The Silent Three, Gemma Bovery, Tamara Drewe) and author / illustrator of children's books (Fred, The Chocolate Wedding).
Melanie Griffith, film and TV actress (Working Girl, Milk Money).
Amanda Bearse, film and TV actress (Married with Children).
Amy Stiller, stand-up comedian, film and TV actress (Little Fokkers, The King of Queens).
Whitney Houston, model, singer ("Saving All My Love for You"), actress (The Bodyguard) listed in 2009 Guinness World Records as most awarded female act of all time.
Hoda Kotb, Daytime Emmy-winning TV news anchor and host.
Gillian Anderson, film and TV actress (The X-Files).
Chris Cuomo, TV journalist and anchor.
Ashley Johnson, film (The Help) and TV actress (Growing Pains), video game voice-overs (The Last of Us).
The Bombing of Nagasaki, August 9, 1945
The bombing of the Japanese city of Nagasaki with the Fat Man plutonium bomb device on August 9, 1945, caused terrible human devastation and helped end World War II.
The Target Committee appointed by President Harry Truman to decide which Japanese cities would receive the Little Boy and Fat Man atomic bombings did not place Nagasaki among their top two choices. Instead they identified Kokura as the second target after Hiroshima. In Kokura, a city of 130,000 people on the island of Kyushu, the Japanese operated one of their biggest ordnance factories, manufacturing among other things chemical weapons. The Americans knew all this, but strangely had not targeted the city yet in their conventional bombing campaign. That was one of the reasons the Target Committee thought it would be a good option after Hiroshima.
The third choice, Nagasaki was a port city located about 100 miles from Kokura. It was larger, with an approximate population of 263,000 people, and some major military facilities, including two Mitsubishi military factories. Nagasaki also was an important port city. Like Kokura and Hiroshima, it had not suffered much thus far from American conventional bombing.
After the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, workers on Tinian island labored intensely to put the finishing touches on the Fat Man bomb and prepare it for use. This was a plutonium implosion device of far greater complexity than the Little Boy bomb used at Hiroshima, which used uranium-235 in a fairly conventional explosive mechanism. The scientists and ordnance experts at Los Alamos had agonized for years over how to use plutonium in an atomic weapon, and Fat Man was the result.
The decision to use Fat Man just days after the explosion of Little Boy at Hiroshima was based on two calculations: the always-changeable Japanese weather—the appearance of a typhoon or other major weather event could force deployment to be postponed for weeks—and the belief that two bombings following in quick succession would convince the Japanese that the Americans had plenty of atomic devices and were ready to keep using them until Japan finally surrendered. Reports of approaching bad weather convinced the Americans to drop the next bomb on August 9.
The B-29 Bock’s Car on August 9, 1945. Courtesy US Army Air Force.
A B-29 named Bock’s Car took off from Tinian at 3:47 that morning. In its belly was Fat Man, and the atomic bomb was already armed. Maj. Charles W. Sweeney flew the plane, accompanied by the usual pilot, Capt. Frederick C. Bock. The Enola Gay took part in the mission, flying weather reconnaissance.
Over Kokura, clouds and smoke from nearby bombing raids obscured visibility. The Americans could see parts of the city, but they could not site directly on the city arsenal that was their target. Sweeney flew overhead until Japanese antiaircraft fire and fighters made things “a little hairy,” and it was obvious that sighting would be impossible. He then headed for his secondary target: Nagasaki. In Kokura, meanwhile, civilians who had taken shelter after the air raid signal heard the all-clear, emerged, and breathed sighs of relief. None of them knew then, of course, how close they had come to dying.
Devastation at Nagasaki, 1945. Courtesy National Archives.
Clouds also obscured visibility over Nagasaki, and Maj. Sweeney, running out of fuel, prepared to turn back toward Okinawa. At the last second a hole opened in the clouds, however, and Bombardier Capt. Kermit K. Beahan announced that he could see his target. And so Fat Man began its journey, detonating over Nagasaki at 11:02 a.m. local time.
Devastation in Nagasaki, 1945. Courtesy Imperial War Museums.
Fat Man detonated at an altitude of 1,650 feet over Nagasaki with a yield of 21 kilotons, about 40 percent more powerful than Little Boy had been. It did so almost directly above the Mitsubishi factories that were the city’s primary targets, rather than over the residential and business districts further south. Tens of thousands of civilians, especially children, had already been evacuated from the city. The series of hills bracing Nagasaki also somewhat confined the initial blast and restricted the damage.
Japanese mother and son receive emergency relief food at Nagasaki, August 10, 1945. Courtesy National Archives.
Still, the impact was devastating, particularly because people had heard the all-clear after an earlier aircraft raid warning, and had left their shelters. Everything within a mile of ground zero was annihilated. Fourteen thousand homes burst into flames. People close to the blast were vaporized those unlucky enough to be just outside that radius received horrific burns and, there and further out, radiation poisoning that would eventually kill them. Although estimates vary, perhaps 40,000 people were killed by the initial detonation. By the beginning of 1946, 30,000 more people were dead. And within the next five years, well over 100,000 deaths were directly attributable to the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
The Atlantic Conference & Charter, 1941
The Atlantic Charter was a joint declaration released by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on August 14, 1941 following a meeting of the two heads of government in Newfoundland. The Atlantic Charter provided a broad statement of U.S. and British war aims.
The meeting had been called in response to the geopolitical situation in Europe by mid-1941. Although Great Britain had been spared from a German invasion in the fall of 1940 and, with the passage of the U.S. Lend Lease Act in March 1941, was assured U.S. material support, by the end of May, German forces had inflicted humiliating defeats upon British, Greek, and, Yugoslav forces in the Balkans and were threatening to overrun Egypt and close off the Suez Canal, thereby restricting British access to its possessions in India. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, few policymakers in Washington or London believed that the Soviets would be able to resist the Nazi onslaught for more than six weeks. While the British Government focused its efforts on dealing with the Germans in Europe, they were also concerned that Japan might take advantage of the situation to seize British, French, and Dutch territories in Southeast Asia.
Churchill and Roosevelt met on August 9 and 10, 1941 aboard the U.S.S. Augusta in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, to discuss their respective war aims for the Second World War and to outline a postwar international system. The Charter they drafted included eight “common principles” that the United States and Great Britain would be committed to supporting in the postwar world. Both countries agreed not to seek territorial expansion to seek the liberalization of international trade to establish freedom of the seas, and international labor, economic, and welfare standards. Most importantly, both the United States and Great Britain were committed to supporting the restoration of self-governments for all countries that had been occupied during the war and allowing all peoples to choose their own form of government
While the meeting was successful in drafting these aims, it failed to produce the desired results for either leader. President Roosevelt had hoped that the Charter might encourage the American people to back U.S. intervention in World War II on behalf of the Allies however, public opinion remained adamantly opposed to such a policy until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Churchill’s primary goal in attending the Atlantic Conference was “to get the Americans into the war.” Barring that, he hoped that the United States would increase its amount of military aid to Great Britain and warn Japan against taking any aggressive actions in the Pacific.
Roosevelt, on the other hand, wanted the British Government to affirm publicly that it was not involved in any secret treaties, particularly ones concerning territorial questions, such as those concluded by the Allies during the First World War concerning the division of enemy territory at war’s end. Roosevelt also wished to arrange the terms by which Great Britain would repay the United States for its Lend Lease assistance. Roosevelt wanted the British to pay compensation by dismantling their system of Imperial Preference, which had been established by the British Government during the Great Depression and was designed to encourage trade within the British Empire by lowering tariff rates between members, while maintaining discriminatory tariff rates against outsiders.
Churchill was extremely disappointed by Roosevelt’s refusal to discuss American entry into the war. Furthermore, Churchill understood that several aspects of the proposed joint declaration might be politically damaging for the Prime Minister. Churchill worried that the abandonment of Imperial Preference would anger the protectionist wing of his Conservative Party. The Americans also proved unwilling to warn Japan too strongly against any future military action against British possessions in Southeast Asia. Finally, both Churchill and many members of his Cabinet were alarmed by the third point of the Charter, which mentions the rights of all peoples to choose their own government. Churchill was concerned that this clause acknowledged the right of colonial subjects to agitate for decolonization, including those in Great Britain’s empire.
Nevertheless, Churchill realized that the joint declaration was the most he could accomplish during the conference. While the United States would remain neutral, the declaration would raise the morale of the British public and, most importantly, bind the United States closer to Great Britain. Therefore, when Churchill forwarded the text of the declaration to his Cabinet on August 11, he warned them that would it be “imprudent” to raise unnecessary difficulties. The Cabinet followed Churchill’s recommendation and approved the Charter.
The 1940’s Decade Timeline
•German dictator Adolf Hitler invades Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands , Belgium, Luxembourg, and then France. He devastates opposing forces with “blitzkrieg,” a strategy that stresses surprise, speed, and overwhelming force using air planes and mechanized ground forces. The USSR annexes Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain and vows Britain will never surrender. The German Luftwaffe far outnumber the Royal Air Force (RAF) as Hitler bombs London for months.
•The US government publicly opposes Hitler’s aggression in Europe but refuses to get involved. President Roosevelt says he will not send troops into any foreign wars. The government promotes hemispheric defense through a Good Neighbor Policy in Latin America. The dictators of Germany, Japan and Italy join forces. The US advocates peace but starts supplying Britain aid to help that country defend itself.
•High unemployment carries over from the Great Depression, but agriculture and industry begin to rebound. Normal rainfall returns and farmers harvest a big crop of corn, wheat, soybeans, and other crops. Production increases and prices rise. European countries are cut off by German blockades, so exports go down, but America’s demand for agricultural goods goes up. The Social Security Administration, created by 1930s New Deal legislation, sends out its first checks. Banking and credit industries become stronger after the 1930s.
•Congress passes several laws related to national defense, including the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which provides drafting and training men for the army and navy, marines and national guard. More than 16 million men register for the draft, which also allows for conscientious objectors to be employed in non-combat work. Congress authorizes money to build planes and ships, housing for soldiers, and establishes new military bases across the country. The Alien Registration Act requires that all aliens register with the government.
•Scientists learn that plasma can be substituted for whole blood transfusions the Rh factor of blood is discovered. Food is freeze dried for the first time.
•CBS demonstrates the first color television in New York City, and WNBT in New York City becomes the country’s first regular television station, broadcasting to about 10,000 viewers.
•Transportation expands. The first multi-lane superhighway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike opens and the first Los Angeles freeway opens. Burma Shave roadside ads are set up along the highways, and the first MacDonald’s hamburger stand opens in Pasadena, California.
•People enjoy an array of popular books, movies and dances. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is popular, and the movie Gone with the Wind wins an Academy Award. Walt Disney releases “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia.” Other movies include “The Great Dictator,” “The Philadelphia Story,” and “The Grapes of Wrath,” staring former Nebraskan Henry Fonda. Americans enjoy “Bugs Bunny” cartoons and hear the “Superman” radio show for the first time. Big band music is popular and the Swing Era is in full swing.
•Following the 1940 election, Franklin Roosevelt is inaugurated for a third term as president and urges that the US become an arsenal of democracy. Iowan Henry Wallace is vice president. The Lend-Lease Act gives the President power to sell or lend war supplies to other countries. Roosevelt sends emergency food aid to the Soviet Union.
•US General Leslie R. Groves is appointed to direct the Manhattan Project, a top secret effort to build an atomic weapon before Germany or Japan. General Groves starts engineering and production centers at Los Alamos, New Mexico, directed by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer Oak Ridge, Tennessee and at the Hanford Engineer Works in eastern Washington. At the University of Chicago, physicist Enrico Fermi, who had fled the Fascist regime in Italy, supervised related experiments. Under university’s football stadium stands in 1942, the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction occurs. At Los Alamos a team of international engineers and scientists races to create atomic weapons for the US.
•In Europe, Germany forces 5,000 Jewish people in Paris to labor camps and isolates Jews in Warsaw, Poland, into a walled ghetto. Jews are prohibited from appearing in public without wearing a star and they cannot leave residential areas without police permission. Hitler ignores the German-Soviet nonaggression pact and invades the Soviet Union. Slowed by the bitter Russian winter, the German war machine fails to conquer Moscow.
•The Japanese attack the US base at Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941. In the surprise attack, more than 350 Japanese airplanes sink 12 US ships and destroy or damage more than 300 aircraft. More than 2,300 military personnel are killed and 1,100 wounded. More than 1,100 men on the battleship Arizona die and the ship sinks. The Japanese attack nearby Hickam Air Field and destroy nearly 20 bombers and fighters. A few US fighters manage to get into the air during the attack. Twenty-nine Japanese aircraft are shot down by US pilots and by ground fire. The next day, President Roosevelt says that December 7, 1941 is date which “will live in infamy” and declares war against Japan. Japan’s allies Italy and Germany declare war on the US.
•A presidential warrant gives the US attorney general power to have the FBI arrest dangerous enemy aliens, including German, Italian and Japanese nationals. Within weeks, more than 1,300 people are detained.
•The United Service Organizations (USO) is started. The USO provides recreation for armed forces personnel. During World War II, more than 730,000 volunteers operate more than 3,000 recreational clubs wherever they could find space in churches, museums, barns, railroad cars, or stores. The USO gives soldiers a place to talk, dance, see movies, or write letters home. Bob Hope is the most famous member of touring USO shows. During his career, he brought laughter to millions of homesick soldiers fighting in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
•Popular movies this year: “Citizen Kane,” “How Green was My Valley,” “Sergeant York,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Dumbo.” Popular comic book characters: Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Pogo, and Sad Sack. The year’s most popular song is “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller, who spent time as a child in North Platte, Nebraska. New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio sets a record with hits in 56 consecutive games, and baseball legend Lou Gehrig dies of the disease that today bears his name. One of the first World War II patriotic songs is “Remember Pearl Harbor,” soon followed by “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.”
•The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers start off the decade of the 1940s by playing in the Rose Bowl New Year’s Day 1941, losing to Stanford University.
•Nazi leaders call a conference to coordinate the final solution to the Jewish question – what comes to be known as The Holocaust, the systematic genocide of Jews and other minorities that do not fall within Hitler’s concept of a master Aryan race.
•More than 120,000 Japanese Americans (Nisei) living on the West Coast are moved inland to internment camps, some for the duration of the war. Although most were born in this country, the Nisei are designated enemy aliens who must obey travel restrictions, curfew, and contraband regulations. Many lose their homes, farms and property during this time of internment.
•President Roosevelt urges Americans to support the war effort, and the country shifts into a wartime economy. Industry accelerates production, automakers produce tanks and planes and new industries are created when items such as rubber are cut off by war in Asia. Employment jumps. Unions gain new members. Farmers prosper as yields and crop prices go up. The US creates the Office of War Information (OWI), which creates Uncle Sam wants you, posters. The OWI’s goal is to inspire patriotism and attract workers to jobs fueling the war effort.
•Dozens of everyday items such as gasoline and sugar are rationed. At the end of 1941 the government halts the production of cars to save steel, glass and rubber for war industries. In 1942 the government stops manufacture of refrigerators, radios, sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, and phonographs.
•The work force changes as millions of men leave their jobs for military service. To fill the labor shortage, women work in factories, earning the nickname Rosie the Riveter. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans leave farms in the South to take defense-related factory jobs in the North. Prison inmates help harvest beets and potatoes in western states. Nearly 400,000 Mexican Americans serve in the military during the war others work in industry. To meet the demand for field workers, the US establishes the work hands program thousands of Mexican immigrants come to farms in the Southwest to work.
•Radar is put to general use. The first nuclear reactor was built. The first electronic digital computer is built in Iowa. The 1,522-mile Alcan Highway opens, connecting Dawson Creek, British Columbia with Fairbanks, Alaska. The concern about a Japanese invasion through Alaska makes construction of the Alcan a military priority. Thousands of US and Canadian soldiers build the highway in a little over eight months. They work through the heat, mosquitoes in the summer, and winter temperatures near 40 degrees below zero.
•”Casablanca” premieres in theatres about the same time the Allied Expeditionary Forces landed and started bombing the real Casablanca in Morocco, North Africa, an area occupied by the Nazis. Also at the movies: “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Pride of the Yankees.”
•The Allies try to stop German munitions and aircraft production centers by bombing key German cities. In Eastern Europe, 200,000 German troops surrender to Soviet forces after months of savage fighting and heavy losses on both sides. On the Pacific front, Japan conquers the Philippines, Malaysia, the Dutch East Indies and Burma. In the battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, US forces take heavy casualties. Even after a major defeat at the Battle of Midway in 1942, Japan refuses to surrender.
•The US Army activates the 442nd Regimental Combat Team made up of the 100th Battalion from Hawaii and Japanese American volunteers from mainland concentration camps. Nearly 10,000 Hawaiian Nisei volunteer for military service. The 100th Battalion fights in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. They rescue the “lost battalion” in 1944 and liberate the survivors at the Dachau Nazi concentration camp.
•Americans continue their hard work, cooperation, and patriotism. Citizens buy war bonds and planted victory gardens to grow their own food. School enrollment goes down as teenagers took jobs or join the military. Families continue to cope with rationing and, in some areas, housing shortages. As cities grew with defense workers, house shortages added to racial tensions. A riot in a federally sponsored Detroit housing project left 35 blacks and 9 whites dead.
•The Pentagon in Washington D.C. is completed and becomes the largest office building in the world. President Roosevelt freezes prices, and wages to prevent inflation. Wage-earners have a 20 percent flat income tax taken out of their paychecks. Because copper is needed for war material, 1943 US pennies are made from steel and zinc. War industries boost the growth of cities as farm-dwellers move to the cities and work in defense industries.
•Selman Waksman discovers streptomycin and coins the term “antibiotic.”
•The jitterbug is a hot dance craze. “Oklahoma” is a popular musical on stage, and people go to see “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Ox-Bow Incident” and “Desert Victory” at the movies. Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore are America’s most popular singers.
•At the University of Nebraska, football coach Biff Jones leaves for military service, as do many of the region’s athletes. Like other schools, Nebraska fields some rag-tag teams during the war years. Tom “Train Wreck” Novak earns 1949 All-America honors on a team with a 4-5 record. In the 1940s Nebraska has a string of losing seasons that doesn’t end until 1950.
•President Franklin Roosevelt is elected to a fourth term. The GI Bill of Rights is passed, providing a variety of benefits for military veterans. The Supreme Court rules that internment of Japanese Americans is constitutional.
•The morning of June 6, 1944, (known as D-Day) 3,000 warships carry 200,000 American and British soldiers cross the stormy English Channel and land on the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy, France, to begin a vicious battle with the German army. The Battle of the Bulge begins in December as Hitler musters 500,000 troops along the Allied front from southern Belgium into Luxembourg. In bitter cold, they push ahead 50 miles, creating a bulge in the Allied lines. By the end of January, 1945, more than 76,000 Americans have been killed, wounded or captured.
•Nearly one million men, women, and children in the Leningrad, Russia, die from starvation and cold during a two-and-a-half-year siege and blockade by German troops. In China, the war begins its seventh year and Japanese troops occupying China were given orders to make the land uninhabitable. In Japan, children are taken out of school to work in factories producing bombs and other war equipment.
•DDT is developed to wipe out lice, a carrier of typhus, a disease which is infecting soldiers. DNA is isolated by Oswald Avery. The Germans develop the V-2, the first missile.
•In 1946, the first digital computer is introduced at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering in Philadelphia. The machine is huge – 30 by 60 feet – and weighs 60,000 pounds. A little different than today’s hand-held computers!
•Movies: “Going My Way,” with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman, “Gaslight,” “Lifeboat,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and “The Fighting Lady.” Favorite books include The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham and A Bell for Adano by John Hersey. NBC airs the first US television network newscast.
•In March, US General George Patton’s Third Army crosses the Rhine River and invades Germany. Allied forces liberate Paris after four years of Nazi occupation. That same month, the US bombs Tokyo with incendiary bombs, creating a firestorm and killing 120,000 people in a few hours. black and Japanese American troops are among those who liberate concentration camps and expose German atrocities.
•On May 7, 1945, Germany surrenders. The war in Europe is over. As Germany falls, Adolf Hitler commits suicide.
•In the Pacific, the Philippine Islands are recaptured. Marines land at Iwo Jima. After 36 days of vicious fighting that kills 20,000 Japanese and 4,000 Americans, the Japanese retreat from the island.
•Women are in the workforce and in uniform. By 1945 more than 250,000 women serve in the Women’s Army Corps (WACS), Army Nurses Corps, the Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES), the Navy Nurses Corps, the U.S. Marines, and the Coast Guard. Most servicewomen are nurses or replace men in non-combat roles. During the war, the marines excluded black Americans, the navy used them as servants, the army created separate black regiments.
•President Franklin Roosevelt dies of a brain hemorrhage, and Missouri native Harry S. Truman becomes president. After considering all options, Truman gives the order and on August 6, 1945, the US drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. In minutes, half of the city vanishes and about 200,000 people are killed or missing. Radiation reaches more than 100,000 people. On August 9, the US drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. In September, Japan surrenders unconditionally on board the USS Missouri.
•”Carousel” opens on Broadway in New York City. Big band swing and “zoot” suits become popular. Popular songs include music from “Carousel,” “At Mail Call Today” by Gene Autry “Aren’t You Glad You’re You” by Bing Crosby and “This Heart of Mine,” by Judy Garland, as well a songs by Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Gwendolyn Brooks, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck are popular authors. Richard Wright’s book Black Boy has an impact on the awareness of racial discrimination in the US.
•Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the first US city to fluoridate its water supply, improving dental health for the entire community. Raymond Libby develops oral penicillin.
•By the time World War II was over, nearly 300,000 Americans had been killed. In all countries bout 55 million people lost their lives. And more civilians lost their lives than soldiers.
•After World War II, the US and the USSR emerged as world powers. Although they fought as allies during World War II, the relationship between the two nations and the two political systems (democracy and capitalism vs. Communism) entered a new era of mutual hostility and conflict. As the two superpowers launched plans to construct and control nuclear arms, the world entered the Cold War.
•The first meeting of the United Nation’s general assembly is held in London. Winston Churchill gives a speech cautioning the world of the Soviet Union’s expansion ambitions. He uses the term “Iron Curtain.” Twelve Nazi leaders are sentenced to hang after war trials at Nuremberg, Germany.
•The 1945 War Brides Act allows foreign-born wives of US citizens who served in the US military to enter the US A year later, another law permits fiancés of American soldiers to enter the US legally
•Jukeboxes go into mass production. One-story, split-level houses, called ranch style homes, become a trend in post-war housing construction.
•Dr. Benjamin Spock writes a best-selling book called Baby and Child Care, the famous how-to book for parents. A nationwide telephone numbering plan begins. Soap operas air on television for the first time with “Faraway Hill.” On Broadway, Irving Berlin’s musical “Annie Get your Gun” is a hit. People read John Hersey’s book Hiroshima and Robert Penn Warren’s novel All the King’s Men. At the movies, people see “The Best Years of Our Lives,” a story about the readjustment families face when loved ones return from war. “The Yearling,” “The Razor’s Edge,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” are also popular.
•George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff during World War II and US secretary of state from 1947-1949, developed the European Recovery Program, known as the Marshall Plan, designed to rebuild the devastated cities of Europe. The Marshall Plan was a $13 billion effort to boost European economies, as well as to halt the spread of Communism.
•Industry booms as the pent-up demand for big and small appliances, cars, farm equipment, radios, and other household items that had been rationed or had ceased production during the war. Innovations from war equipment make their way into consumer goods. Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier in an X-1 rocket-powered research plane. African-American Jackie Robinson joins the Brooklyn Dodgers and breaks the color barrier in baseball. The transistor and microwave oven are invented.
•Television grows. President Harry Truman’s State of the Union address and the Baseball World Series are televised. “Meet the Press,” television’s longest running program begins. “Howdy Doody” begins its 13 years on television. With television programming comes the start of commercials. By the end of the year, America had 139 commercial broadcast TV stations, but there were only an estimated 9,000 households with televisions.
•Weather grabs the headlines as a blizzard drops 70 inches of snow in New England and 170 people die and 10,000 homes are destroyed in a series of tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma. A freighter carrying nitrate sets off an explosion at the Monsanto chemical plant in Texas City, Texas. The tragedy destroys the entire city. More than 500 people are killed, 2,100 injured.
•The musical “Brigadoon” and the play “A Streetcar Named Desire” launch on Broadway. Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl is published. At the movies: “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “The Farmer’s Daughter,” “The Egg and I.”
•People across the country become fascinated by the reports of flying saucers (unidentified flying objects, UFOs) during the summer. The government confirms to a New Mexico newspaper that a flying saucer has crashed near Roswell and alien bodies were recovered from the site but the source later cancels all accounts of the crash, saying the object was a government weather balloon.
•The Soviet Union blockades Berlin, Germany, trying to force the Allies out of West Berlin. The Allies respond with a huge effort to supply the 2 million residents of West Berlin by airdrop. From June 1948 through September, 1949, huge cargo planes bring in more than 2 million tons of frozen American beef, flour, sugar, dehydrated foods, soap and medical supplies, newspapers, coal for fuel and equipment. The pilots also bring in candy for children. Food and supplies are packaged at the US Army Transport Terminal in Bremerhaven, Germany. By the end of the airlift, pilots log more than 277,000 flights.
•By executive order, President Harry Truman abolishes racial segregation in the US armed forces. The government upheld segregation during World War II, creating the first all-black military aviation program at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The 99th Fighter Squadron fights battles in North Africa, Sicily and Anzio and was joined by three all-Black squadrons. Together, they are known as the 332nd Fighter group and come home with 150 medals.
•The Displaced Persons Act permits people from Europe who were displaced by the war to enter the US outside of existing immigration quotas.
•A group of movie and television writers, producers, and directors are called as witnesses by the House Un-American Activities Committee. The group is put in jail for contempt of Congress when they refuse to state if they are or are not Communists.
•”The Ed Sullivan Show” premieres on television. People are reading The Naked and the Dead The Age of Anxiety Cry, the Beloved Country and Intruder in the Dust. Leo Fender invents the electric guitar. Western Union manufactures Deskfax machines. “Kiss Me Kate,” is on Broadway. “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “Johnny Belinda,” “The Snake Pit,” and “Red River” are at the movies. Baseball player Babe Ruth dies soon after the release of the movie “The Babe Ruth Story.” The Polaroid camera develops pictures in one minute, and the Bic ballpoint pen is on the market. Long playing (LP) records (25 minutes per side) are introduced.
•The US joins in forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a pact for mutual defense of Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the US. The USSR’s leader Joseph Stalin signs an alliance with the People’s Republic of China, a Communist nation formed in 1949. The Soviet Union conducts its first atomic test.
•Germany is split into the German Democratic Republic (East Germany under Soviet Communist rule and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).
•The US Air Force begins Operation Haylift, an emergency effort to get food to 2 million cattle and sheep stranded by heavy snow on the Great Plains.
•The musicals “South Pacific” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and the play “Death of Salesman” are popular. Influential books include: The Second Sex, presenting the idea of male oppression of women 1984, describing a bleak, fascist future and Norman Vincent Peale’s upbeat Guide to Confident Living. RCA markets 45 rpm records and record player. Milton Berle hosts the first telethon, and the Emmy Awards for television begin. Movies: “Twelve O’Clock High,” “Sands of Iwo Jima,” “Battleground,” and “The Third Man.”
•The popularity of big band music declines. A faster style based on improvisation, called bebop or bop, emerges. Popular jazz musicians are saxophonist Charlie Parker, trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Earl Powell, drummer Max Roach, pianist-composer Thelonious Monk, and composer-arranger Gil Evans. Modern jazz bands led by Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton are popular.
7. National Fire Service and Air Raid Precautions
For the first two years of the war, fires were dealt with by locally run Auxiliary Fire Services, staffed by men who were unable to serve in the armed forces. In 1941 these were replaced with the National Fire Service (NFS). Personnel records for the NFS and ARP have not survived but you can search our catalogue for surviving policy files and other records relating to central government oversight of the two services.
Air Raid Precautions (ARP) was established well before the war, but the number of wardens and their responsibilities increased from 1939 onwards. ARP wardens had various responsibilities including
- making sure no lights were visible during the &lsquoblackout&rsquo
- issuing gas masks and air raid shelters
- searching for survivors after bombing raids
- recording information about size and location of bombs and related damage
Battle of Britain
On 18 June 1940, Churchill gave a rousing speech to the British people, announcing: ‘… the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin.’ Four days later, France surrendered to Germany and Hitler turned his attention to Britain.
As early summer gave way to July and August, the threat of invasion loomed over Britain and the Luftwaffe (German air force) began attacking shipping in the English Channel, coastal towns, airfields and Royal Air Force (RAF) bases. All the resources of Fighter Command in the South were used to combat the attacks and, in August, the RAF managed to inflict heavy casualties on the Luftwaffe.
On 20 August, Churchill made what was to become one of his most famous speeches to the House of Commons, in which he stated that ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’ The speech made clear the huge significance of the battle undertaken by the under-resourced RAF.
By September, it was clear that the RAF were successfully fighting the attacks, and the Luftwaffe switched their attention from the coastal towns and airfields to London. In early September a massive series of raids involving nearly four hundred German bombers and more than six hundred fighters targeted docks in London’s East End. On 15 September 1940, which became known as ‘Battle of Britain’ day, the RAF destroyed a huge formation of Luftwaffe over London and the South, forcing Hitler to postpone plans to invade Britain.
The Battle of Britain had been won – even if only by a small margin – and the threat of invasion averted.
September 15th 1940
September 15 th in known as ‘Battle of Britain Day’ and each September it is celebrated to commemorate the day in 1940 when the Luftwaffe attacked Fighter Command with all its might and lost. Throughout September 15 th 1940, Fighter Command had to use everything at its disposal to counter the two main attacks by the Luftwaffe but by the end of the day any threat that Fighter Command had faced had been repelled. While the Battle of Britain continued until October 1940, the real threat posed by the Luftwaffe was broken on September 15 th and with no control of the skies or the English Channel, ‘Operation Sealion’ had to be called off saving Britain from any chance of invasion.
September 15 th fell on a Sunday in 1940. The German High Command had planned to issue new orders for ‘Operation Sealion’ on September 17 th . Therefore control of the skies was vital if the plan was to proceed and the invading barges were to be safe from attacks by the RAF. On September 14 th , the commander of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göering, had sent out instructions that an all-out aerial assault was to be made on southern England on September 15 th .
While the Luftwaffe had suffered unexpectedly high loss rates prior to September 15 th , they had learned one key thing. If they flew at a high altitude, they had on occasions taken Fighter Command by surprise. That was all they knew – German intelligence had failed to discover that the radar stations that were dotted around southern and eastern England were only effective up to 20,000 feet. Luftwaffe pilots simply believed it was because Fighter Command’s Spitfires and Hurricanes took time to reach high altitudes. However, to a degree this was immaterial. What they had learned was that the higher they flew the better the chances of their success.
British intelligence using radio intercepts had already informed Sir Keith Park that a large attack by the Luftwaffe was to be expected but he was given no date – just that it would be soon. Park’s 11 Group was expected to confront the bulk of the attack and Park, as 11 Group’s commanding officer, had done what he could to make it as effective as was possible given the rates of attrition it had suffered since the start of the battle.
During his breakfast on the morning of September 15 th , Park was informed of a large build up of Luftwaffe forces along the French coast. Park concluded that this was the start of the huge raid he had been warned of. To an extent the weather helped both the Luftwaffe and Fighter Command. Clear skies with just a minimal chance of cloud and rain meant that the Luftwaffe had no clouds to use to disguise their journey – a bonus for Fighter Command. However, the clears skies also meant that the Luftwaffe could clearly see incoming attacks by pilots from Fighter Command.
Ironically, September 15 th was the day that Winston Churchill chose to visit Fighter Command at 11 Group’s headquarters in Uxbridge. Park escorted Churchill and his wife to his bombproof command centre fifty feet underground. Park was informed of a build-up of Luftwaffe aircraft near Dieppe and Calais. Park ordered that Biggin Hill, Hornchurch and Kenley were to be put on ‘stand by’. When it became clear that the size of the incoming force was far greater than initially expected, Park ordered all of 11 Group to be at ‘stand by’. At 09.30 two large Luftwaffe forces approached the southeast coast but then turned back to France. It is possible that the tactic of sending a force out and then recalling it was what Fighter Command called a ‘feeler’ – seeing what response Fighter Command would make to such a force. Park ordered 11 Group to ‘stand down’.
At 10.30 a very large Luftwaffe force was detected gathering between Calais and Boulogne. However, it was the sheer size of the force that benefited Park as it took so long to form up. Minding this bomber force meant that Me-109’s burned off fuel that they could not afford to. This gave Park the time he needed and 11 Group was again ordered to ‘stand by’. It was at this time that Park told Churchill that a “big one” was expected and after examining the map in the operations room Churchill told Park “there appear to be many aircraft coming in.”
By 11.00 it was clear from radar that over many bombers were approaching with an unknown number of fighter escorts and they were estimated to cross the coastline at Dungeness at 11.45.
Between 11.05 and 11.20 twelve fighter squadrons were scrambled – 4 Spitfire and 8 Hurricane. They faced a very large Luftwaffe force that was two miles across and flying between 15,000 and 26,000 feet. Flying among the bombers were Me-110’s while flying above the whole force were covering Me-109’s. The size of the incoming force was such that Park ordered part of 12 Group to scramble. Between 11.35 and 11.40 a further eleven squadrons took to the air – 4 Spitfire and 7 Hurricane. In total Fighter Command had 23 squadrons in the air
As the Luftwaffe force crossed Kent, 11 squadrons from Fighter Command intercepted it. A further 12 were kept in reserve or used to protect London from incoming bombers. The intensity of Fighter Command’s attack led to one Luftwaffe pilot later writing that “we thought that the whole of the RAF was there”. The nearer the Luftwaffe bombers got to London, the more squadrons from Fighter Command joined in. Many of the Me-109’s escorts had turned back as they were low on fuel and this left the bomber force easy prey to the Spitfires and Hurricanes that seemed to surround them. Holding squadrons in reserve to protect London was a vital tactical move by Park. Luftwaffe bombers dropped their bombs randomly to lighten their load to facilitate a speedier return to occupied France and Belgium.
Fighter Command had fought over a substantial area in the sky – 80 miles long and 38 miles wide.
However, the day was not over for Fighter Command. They had fought the first of two huge waves. While the first wave returned in disarray, the ground crew of Fighter Command had to rearm and refuel their aircraft in readiness for another attack. At 13.30, radar picked up another large Luftwaffe force massing off Calais – 150 bombers escorted by 400 fighters. They were expected to cross the English coastline at 14.15. The ground crews had done their job, as every squadron that had fought in the morning attack was ready by 14.00. By 14.05, twenty squadrons were in the air. It was clear that the Luftwaffe’s target was again London. The size of the incoming raiders spread across a ten-mile front. The fighting was as fierce as in the morning attack. Those bombers that had managed to get across Kent and Surrey were faced with fifteen squadrons that had been tasked with protecting London, including Douglas Bader’s ‘Big Wing’. Bader later wrote that during this particular attack, Fighter Command “shot them to blazes”. Once again German bombers dropped their bombs at random and the intended target – docks in the East End – received just minimal damage. The incoming Luftwaffe formation had been attacked with such ferocity that bombs fell in Mitcham, Kilburn, Hammersmith and Croydon. Fighter Command continued to attack the bombers as they returned to mainland Europe.
That night the public was informed by the Air Ministry that Fighter Command had shot down 183 German aircraft. In fact, the real figure was 56. However, the inflated figure was a huge boost to morale. The damage to the Luftwaffe was more than just lost aircraft. Göering had told his men before the first attack that Fighter Command was down to just its “last fifty Spitfires”. In fact, they faced over 250 fighters. While it is difficult to measure a drop in morale, there can be little doubt that in the minds of the men at the sharp end of the Luftwaffe – the crews – Fighter Command was a very formidable opponent as their losses clearly indicated. Fighter Command lost 26 aircraft and 13 pilots were killed.
The significance of September 15 th 1940 was recognised by Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he stated that the day was the “crux of the Battle of Britain”. The battle was to continue into October but without the control of the skies ‘Operation Sealion’ simply could not take place. September 15 th ensured that the Luftwaffe was not going to gain such control. Pilot Officer Thomas Neil of 249 Squadron later said: “September 15 th was a very special day.”